Welp, in the recent string of “Police + Black people = ends poorly”, this time a therapist was shot. Not killed, thankfully, just shot. He was trying to calm an escaped adult with autism, who only had a toy truck. A neighbor confused a tonka truck for a gun (it’s amazing how being not White can magically turn even the most innocent of things into guns, like bright green soda bottles and toy trucks) and in came the cops to go after an autistic person because, y’know, police are very well trained for neurodivergent people, especially non-White ones.* The mental health worker, doing their job, was just trying to keep the 23-year-old safe and not dead as he’s dealing with the sensory overload of very dumb people with really powerful weapons acting immensely aggressive because…there’s not enough bad PR for police already? And he gets shot. On ground, hands out, responding carefully, still gets a spontaneous injection of lead vitamins.
Now, if that’s not baffling, the head of the police union has more to wow you with: they didn’t mean to shoot the therapist…they were aiming for the autistic person.
Oh, that’s fantastic to know. Just wonderful. No need for Mental Health First Aid classes when Smith & Wesson can already give you a crash course in how to deal with the mentally ill and disabled. No need for the Hellen Keller method of dealing with neurodivergents when there’s the George Zimmerman solution. I would bemoan how Florida is really turning out to be a crappy state buuuuuuuut the whole nation is getting sour.
This is very frustrating for a ream of reasons:
The person is autistic, not dangerous:
Ok, I understand there’s a bunch of stigma around having autism. Then you have folks like Autism Speaks** who make things worse. The interesting thing about the internet is that you can learn about autism (not that vaccines cause it because that’s been disproven over and over and over again). There’s even an episode of the children’s show Arthur about it:
There, now you know more about autism than a police officer. And if you’re a police officer, now you just got a little bit better at your job, you deserve a popsicle as you get ready to strut into work to impress your major and be one less person for Internal Affairs to worry about.
Apparently what caused the cop to get antsy is that the autistic person was not obeying orders to lay down on the ground. Because he’s autistic. Like the mental health worker was saying. And completely harmless. This is such bad training, oh my gods.
The cop being not White doesn’t make it better:
The cop that delivered the shot was a 30 year old Latin dude that was kind of new, only four years on the force. But still, he should have gotten much better training than breaking out the automatic rifle and taking three shots. I understand police feel under attack because they don’t tend to train their brethern well and that can attract controversy. However, I really doubt attempting to murder an autistic person is going to make anything better. Neither is trying to kill that person’s doctor. If there were beanbags pellets instead of bullets or, I don’t know, listening to the doctor, this could have probably not even have turned into a story. Just a case of a patient got out, doctor went to get them, police came, understood the situation and tried to help the doctor rally the person in. Hey, that even would have been an okay story, to show that not all police are pigs with bloodthirst. Instead, you just get a new story of why police get so much heat about how they handle things.
This is a wee bit personal:
Ah, for someone who isn’t very anti-police, these stories (and my own personal experience, such as a police raid) do not help me keep the faith much. I have written on here a number of times about how I have trauma disorders and I have a therapist as well. And I have to get treatment for my disability, that, if left untreated, can easily go ham. This really irks me that if I have a major episode, this is what I get to look forward to: some dunce person that can’t tell a tonka truck from a glock calling 911 and police just getting murder-y in response. My main therapist is White buuuuuut the mental health worker that helped defined my disorder back when I was hospitalized? Black. And given how this story unraveled, it doesn’t even matter what race my main therapist is, they’re just as much of a target simply because I’m in the vicinity.
I have friends in the force going up to Federal. I explain to them how my disorder works and they ask questions, because that’s the smart thing to do. However, they should already know how to deal with mentally ill and disabled people because they’re who gets called when someone is having an episode. This is not good. This is alarming. The answer to dealing with neurodivergent people is not “Just add bullets”.
The police, frankly, handled this poorly. This is getting beyond annoying, this is getting concerning. Police generally are trained with protocols of how to handle everything, from irate sports fans to riots. They need to really upgrade how they handle dealing with people in general, it seems. Especially the historically marginalized.
*They’re not. “Attempt to murder” is not a satisfactory method to deal with neurodivergent people. Ever.
** “Autism$peaks” because the money is all they’re after